Date: Thursday, November 18, 1999

TITLE: Respite
AUTHOR: Dawn
http://members.tripod.com/~dawnsunrise/index.html
EMAIL: sunrise83@comcast.net
ARCHIVE: MTA, Xemplary, Gossamer - others are fine, just let me know
SPOILERS: Sixth Extinction, Amor Fati
RATING: PG
CLASSIFICATION: VA
KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully UST, Scully POV
SUMMARY: Respite - a period of temporary delay; an interval of rest and
relief. Scully's thoughts at Mulder's bedside. A fill in the blank for
Amor Fati.
DISCLAIMER: Of course they aren't mine. Scully and Mulder belong to
Chris Carter and 1013 Productions. I've only borrowed them and I promise
to give them back when I'm done.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is my contribution to spackling a portion of the
gaping hole left by Mr. Carter. I, for one, needed a bit of segue
between the DOD and Mulder's apartment. Thanks to Vickie for the
thorough once over. This one's for Donna - hang in there, kiddo.
FEEDBACK: Appreciated, responded to, and saved for posterity. Love to
hear from you.

Respite
By Dawn


I can't seem to take my eyes off him.

Considering the fact that he's done little but sleep, you'd think my
mind would be wandering by now, seeking more stimulating data to
process.

Instead, the rhythmic soughing of breath, the spill of dark lashes on a
pale cheek, and the curl of fingers across the sheet mesmerizes me. Like
the needle on a compass, compelled to point due north, my gaze returns
again and again to contemplate his face. My hands, too, have a will of
their own -- fingers threading through unruly tufts of hair to smooth
them, cupping a sandpapery jaw to check for fever, tracing warm skin at
the crook of an elbow to soothe abused flesh.

Alive.

Bruised? Certainly. Mulder's arms would better suit a street junkie than
a federal agent, the skin marked and discolored by innumerable I.V.s and
injections.

Battered? A tame description for a man submitted to unauthorized,
unclassifiable brain surgery and then left to die. Unclassifiable,
because despite the undeniable physical evidence of an operation,
Mulder's CAT scan came up amazingly normal.

Weary? Since I pulled him out of that DOD facility 36 hours ago, he's
been conscious a total of perhaps fifteen minutes. According to the
doctor, his overstimulated brain is making up for lost time, healing
itself.

Yet even though all the above may be true, though the man lying
passively in that bed may be a mere shadow of my energetic, driven,
exasperating partner, only one truth matters to me at the moment.

Alive.

For countless days, strung together like pearls on a necklace, I've
existed at breakneck speed. I've crossed continents and time zones,
battled swarms of insects and a machete-wielding madman, found and lost
the key to all of life's greatest mysteries.

Mulder isn't the only one overwhelmed by fatigue.

A corner of my overtaxed brain screams that it's time to sift through
the baggage I've collected during my manic search for Mulder's cure.
Life-changing baggage.

Irrefutable proof of an extraterrestrial intelligence coupled with its
impact on the development and possible extinction of life, as we know
it.

My faith - lost, found, and now brutally dashed to pieces on the hull of
an alien craft. So many pieces I can't help doubting my ability to
reassemble them into any kind of meaningful whole.

And, most disturbing of all, I've learned that my ability to judge
character, to evaluate friend versus foe, ally versus enemy, is
seriously screwed up. Skinner compromised and working against us. Fowley
providing the crucial tools to save Mulder's life. Who to believe? Who
to trust?

Somehow, I've relegated these disturbing, devastating questions into a
dark room, locked the door, and pocketed the key. Because, for now, they
pale in comparison to the power of the man sleeping by my side.

Alive.

When did Fox Mulder assume this position at the center of my universe?
When did he become my science? My faith? My trust?

He told me once that I am his one in five billion. That I complete him.
Yet it took almost losing him for me to see how inextricably my life has
entwined with his. Once I shared his quest, but that has blossomed into
so much more. Now I share his soul, and perhaps more significantly, he
shares mine.

So I hold that key in my pocket, fingering it occasionally but content
to just rest in the knowledge that my partner will live to see another
sunrise. To expound another of his crazy theories. To crack another of
his terrible jokes.

Alive.

I grant myself this respite, temporarily in the eye of the hurricane.
And I savor the simple pleasure of watching him sleep, brow smooth and
untroubled, the barest curve to his lips, while his beautiful mind finds
restoration.

Mulder makes a tiny sound in the back of his throat and turns his head,
eyelids twitching, then fluttering open. He stares through me for a
moment, his focus still directed inward as he struggles to break the
surface of slumber. I see the instant he does - a slow blink and then a
sweet, slightly loopy smile spreads across his face.

"Hey, Scully," he rasps, fingers tightening on mine.

"Hey yourself," I reply, sending a full-wattage smile in return.

"Timizit?" he asks, as I rise to get him a drink of cool water from the
ever-present plastic pitcher.

"Late. About midnight. Sleep well?"

Mulder grimaces, then accepts the plastic straw and drinks
enthusiastically. When he releases the tube and lies back I can see this
visit will be no longer than the others - his hazel eyes are still dark
with exhaustion and the lids hover at half mast.

"All I do is sleep," he grumbles, enforcing his words with another
involuntary yawn.

"You know the drill, Mulder," I say on cue. "Your body needs time to
heal." I smirk a little. "Besides, it's a good look on you."

Mulder mouths "ha, ha" and sticks out his lower lip in a feigned pout. I
stroke my thumb over the back of his hand, amused when the simple
gesture hastens his slide toward sleep.

"Go home, Scully," he mumbles, his fingers tickling my palm. "I'm no
good for sparkling conversation right now, and you need sleep too."

"You first," I counter, as his lids drift shut, then lift slowly. "I'll
be right behind you."

He chuckles softly. "Yeah. Watching my back. I count on it."

He rotates his wrist, and suddenly his hand cradles mine. "I held on for
you, Scully," he adds drowsily. "You showed me the way."

Abruptly my throat is too tight, probably because of the large lump
lodged in it. "I don't know, Mulder. At the moment I feel pretty lost."

Something in my voice pulls him back from the edge of sleep, turning his
eyes from somnolent to intent. "We'll find the path together, Scully.
Just like always."

His words strike a chord that resonates deep within me. I cease fiddling
with the key, unwilling to shatter the fragile sense of peace. For now.

Mulder slips back into slumber as easily as a small child, fingers still
curled reassuringly around my palm. I need to go home, desperately need
to sleep, but I close my eyes and soak up the warmth of his touch, the
music of his respiration. Just a brief respite, but I think I've earned
it.

End

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